Sunday, December 27, 2009
Theodora Goes Wild (1936) is a pure delight
Dunne plays small town girl Theodora Lynn, who lives with her two aunts in the quaint little town of Lynnfield. The town is small and pretty much ran by the women who likes to keep things simple and nice and decent. The women's literary club are at constant odds with the local newspaper who likes to run articles about the author Caroline Adams, who is a famous writer, known for her scandalous stories. The catch is Theodora is actually Caroline and lives a double life, keeping her family and townspeople in the dark about her other half. Theodora visits her uncle in New York, who has been written off by the family because of his own reputation. She uses that as her cover to see her publisher, who constantly tries to convince her to meet her adoring fans. Theodora holds her ground and ends up meeting Michael Grant, who is her book jacket illustrator, played by the always entertaining Melvyn Douglas. Once Theodora leaves New York to head back home, Michael follows her and makes life for her very complicated. The nosy townspeople wonder what he's doing in town and Theodora quickly puts him to work around her family's house. Of course things become harder and harder to keep secret especially when Theodora falls in love in Michael. There are a few dramatic scenes in this movie, like when Theodora goes off on the other women in town about her relationship with Michael. And a subplot involving a friend of Theodora who is run off from town because of the man she chose to marry, and eventually have a child with. But there are lots of moments of screwball hilarity that will have you busting a gut. Irene Dunne, one of my favorites, excels in these types of roles and she hits the mark again with this one. Her natural flair for comedy is most evident in her scenes with Douglas. They make quite the charming pair.
Theodora Goes Wild is one of the best screwball comedies ever made. And Dunne proves she is definitely one of the queens of comedy. I would rank her right up there with Carole Lombard and Myrna Loy. I enjoyed this film from start to finish. I loved the dog that Douglas's character picked up on the way into town and named him Jake...and the bond the two formed. I loved Theodora's two aunts, who were at first like all the other women in town, wound too tight and didn't care for any signs of questionable characters. But once they found out that their niece was the scandalous novelist, they didn't hesitate to have Theodora's back and slam anyone else for thinking bad of her. I also loved the newspaper editor who liked irking the Women's Literary Group just for the heck of it. All so many little things and other characters made this a highly entertaining movie. One I could watch over and over. Theodora Goes Wild will definitely make those Wednesdays much more bearable.